Objective: To study blood pressure and pulse pressure longitudinally and their association with basal and change of body mass index (BMI) and waist to hip ratio (WHR).
Design: A prospective population study of 1462 women in Gothenburg, Sweden, aged 38-60 y at baseline, with a longitudinal follow-up of 24 y.
Outcome measures: Incidence of hypertension, systolic and diastolic blood pressure, and pulse pressure at baseline and after 12 and 24 y of follow-up.
Results: Systolic and diastolic blood pressure as well as pulse pressure increased with age and turned down again at high age. BMI and WHR at baseline were each independently associated with baseline systolic and diastolic blood pressure, but only BMI with pulse pressure. However, baseline BMI and WHR were not associated with change of systolic, diastolic or pulse pressure during 12 or 24 y of follow-up. Increase in BMI during the follow-up period was associated with increase in systolic and diastolic blood pressure but not with increase in pulse pressure. There were no such associations with WHR changes which, were either unrelated or in one analysis inversely related with blood pressure changes. When considering incidence of hypertension during the first 12 y of follow-up, BMI and change in BMI were significant predictors, independent of WHR.
Conclusion: Age, BMI and increments in BMI seem to be strong predictors for hypertension and increased systolic and diastolic blood pressure in women. In contrast, WHR plays a lesser and uncertain role in the development of hypertension in middle-aged women. Changes in BMI seem not to be accompanied by changes in pulse pressure during a long time follow-up.